Play It Forward Project to Assist Therapeutic Recreation Students

Recreation Association Student Club members.

The Department of Recreation Administration has launched Play It Forward, an exciting new project which will provide scholarships and funding for students majoring specifically in therapeutic recreation. Did you know? The exam fees for the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification is $425 alone, in addition to another $170 for the California Board of Park and Recreation Certification. Donations to Play It Forward will help to offset the high costs for these state-mandated certifications.

The concept for this project grew from the simple idea of paying it forward to help invest in the future of therapeutic recreation students and assisting with their certification/exam fees, which as you can see, are costly. Hopefully, this creates a nature of giving where they can pay it forward for the next generation. Students would also be eligible for Play It Forward funds after completing their internship and showing proof of registration for the exam.

Dr. Sam Lankford, chair in the Department of Recreation Administration, invites YOU to Play It Forward!
Dr. Sam Lankford, chair in the Department of Recreation Administration, invites YOU to Play It Forward!

The recreation profession is the second largest industry in the U.S. and continues to be one of the fastest rising occupations on the job market. The therapeutic recreation option, in particular, prepares students to work in the health care field, helping individuals with disabling conditions use leisure activities to enhance their quality of life. Graduates go on to work in clinical and community-based settings, such as nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities and more.

We are celebrating the act of #GivingTuesday all month long, and today, we invite you to make a gift and/or learn more about the Play It Forward project. Making your gift is simple! Visit the Fresno State donation page and type in “Play It Forward” in the ‘other’ box and choose your gift amount. Every dollar counts and every dollar is much appreciated!

Students majoring in therapeutic recreation.

We hope you will join the Department of Recreation Administration in Playing It Forward! By doing so, you are supporting and investing in the future of Live Well leaders right here in the Valley. With your generous gift, students will be eligible for the Playing It Forward scholarship, as early as this coming spring. Donors will have a chance to meet these amazing scholars at the 19th annual Central California Therapeutic Recreation Symposium on April 25th, 2015. More details on this event to come!

To learn more about this project, please contact Dr. Nancy Nisbett at

Balance screenings provide for inter-professional collaboration

Third year DPT student, Brent Jensen, works with a client.

Earlier this month, the Department of Physical Therapy held their annual balance screenings for older adults. The screenings, coordinated through the Senior Awareness & Fall Education (SAFE) Central Valley Coalition, helped to assess strength, balance and risk for falling for 38 clients, age 65 and up.

California currently has the largest older adult population of any state in the USA. In Fresno County alone, falling causes 75% of injuries to seniors over 60 years of age. Formed in 2011, the mission of SAFE is to increase awareness of the physical, psychological and economic impact of falls on individuals – and to train current and future medical professionals about the importance of early screenings and intervention.

“The great thing about these quarterly balance screenings is that it allows for inter-professional collaboration amongst the various departments within the College of Health and Human Services”, said Dr. Peggy Trueblood, chair in the Department of Physical Therapy.

The screenings that took place this semester included second year students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and nursing students specializing in community health. These students led the hour-long assessments (held at the Gait, Balance and Mobility Research, Education, and Training Center) that incorporated the expertise of both departments.

Nursing students performing intake of clients.

Nursing students were the first to meet the clients, checking their blood pressure and medical history, while physical therapy students observed. The nursing students also looked at the potential risk factors in clients that may cause falls, including signs of depression and physical/emotional weakness.

Third year DPT student, Jason Prestosa, goes over screening results with a client.

Next, the clients met with the DPT students who performed a variety of tests that screened for gait, strength, balance and leg strength. Their experience allowed them to perform subjective screenings, in which they were able to identify if the client had a fear of falling, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. The DPT students were also able to recommend home exercise programs, home safety tactics and refer clients to physicians for further screenings if needed.

A new collaboration this year was the addition of pharmacy students from California Health Sciences University, who provided clients with an overview of their prescribed medication.

An added bonus is that community nursing students will even make a home visit for the client for a follow-up visit or in the case of increasing problems.

Trueblood said inter-professional collaboration is important, as it teaches students the importance of working as a team.

“Not only do they learn about different disciplines, but they also get to integrate different practices into their training,” said Trueblood. “It is great to take a team approach in projects like the balance screenings.”

Balance screenings are held two times per semester. For more information on the SAFE balance screening dates for spring 2015 or to sign up for a balance screening, visit or call 559.278.7539.

View this clip to learn more about SAFE.

Human Rights Forum to Address Bullying, Dec. 13th

bullyingOn Saturday, December 13th, local leaders, educators, community activists and organizers will come together to educate the community about the topic of human rights, specifically in the area of bullying. The Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley, in partnership with the Fresno County Office of Education will present “Bullying – A Human Rights Violation Against Freedom, Equality, Dignity and Respect!” to commemorate Human Rights Day, which happens annually on December 10th.

A panel of speakers will present at the event, including Fresno State President Joseph Castro, Fresno Superior Court Judge David Gottlieb, Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino, as well as various educators in the community.

Bullying is a widespread abuse of human rights, with effects that can be harmful and debilitating for children. The Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley hopes to address and explore the issue of bullying at this event through discussion of resources that families and individuals can use to help end the abuse. Experts from the valley’s school districts and community members will present resources and methods which work to help keep schools safe and teach children respect and accountability for their actions.

Event details:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (lunch provided)

Location: Fresno State, North Gym 118

For more information on the event, please contact Dr. Su Kapoor at 559.435.2212 or Teresa Castillo at 559.360.8054.

The College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State is a proud sponsor of this event.

Students in Recreation Administration Showcase Projects

On December 9th, recreation administration students in RA 101 got the opportunity to showcase the exciting projects they’ve been working hard on all semester long. Over 20 students, representing all options within the department, participated in the poster presentations.

Participants were able to network and learn about some of the controversial issues facing the recreation and leisure industry in our modern society, and to relax in an enjoyable atmosphere as the fall 2014 semester comes to a close.

Did you know that the recreation industry is one of the fastest growing careers in the job market? Graduates in the department go on to work for private and public sectors, nonprofits and governmental agencies all over the world. The department currently has five emphasis options, including: adventure recreation and tourism, commercial recreation and event planning, community recreation and youth services, sports and entertainment facility management and therapeutic recreation.

Congratulations to all these students for a wonderful semester. We can’t wait to see where these Live Well scholars will go in their careers! For more information on the Department of Recreation Administration, please check out their website.

Meet Honors Scholar Riho Okamura!

Two years ago, Riho Okamura left the city of Chiba, Japan (which is located just outside of Tokyo), in pursuit of her academic goals here in the United States. She found herself at Fresno State, where she is currently a junior, majoring in athletic training. Riho said she chose Fresno State in particular, for it’s acclaimed athletic training program and because the program was not available in any collegiate institutions back in Japan.

Take a few minutes to learn more about Riho’s journey from Japan to Fresno State!

Earlier this semester, Riho became one of 20 students to be admitted into the College of Health and Human Services’ (CHHS) inaugural cohort of Honors Scholars. This is a program designed to build collaboration skills and leadership. Students are introduced to the inter-disciplinary process in addressing health and human service needs, and are provided opportunities for advanced inter-professional studies. Honors scholars apply their learning in culmination projects of interdisciplinary assessment and evaluation that address the needs of the Central Valley. Students are invited to be a part of the program by their professors because they have exhibited a passion for their chosen field and have excelled in the classroom, earning a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Leaving her home in Japan and coming to America was a monumental step for Riho, but thanks in part to programs like our Honors Scholars program, Riho has been able to network with other high achieving Bulldogs from other academic fields within the College and learn more about the various academic disciplines offered within CHHS.

Learn more about Riho’s academic journey at the video link above! As with all of our students in CHHS, we wish Riho the absolute best and know she will continue on to become a wonderful LIVE WELL leader!

CDDS Unveils New Audio/Video Equipment

cdds3The Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies (CDDS) unveiled their new audio and video equipment during an open house showcase on Dec. 4th. This new equipment was the result of a  $25,000 gift from Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT), to support Fresno State’s Speech and Hearing Clinic. With additional funds from the office of the Dean and departmental funds, the the total amount of funds raised was $80,000.

cdds2Some of the new equipment includes four cameras and four microphones that allow parents and supervisors in the viewing room to see and hear the treatment being conducted in the clinic. At the open house, visitors were able to view a pre-school session in progress. This new system improves the way families observe evaluation and treatment of clients with autism.

Dr. Bryan Berrett, chair in the department of CDDS, said the new equipment not only allows parents the opportunity to observe and listen, but also allows for more flexibility on the part of supervisors overseeing the student clinicians, who consist of graduate students in speech pathology.

The Speech and Hearing Clinic serves clients ranging from ages 3 to 83. For more information on the Speech and Hearing Clinic, contact Berrett at

Ana Tapia Remembered As Exceptional Student Leader and Friend

Three weeks ago on a brisk Thursday evening in McLane Hall, as PH 210 Health Policy Analysis was underway, a single rose sat atop the desk usually occupied by public health graduate student Ana Tapia. Tapia’s classmates had placed that vibrant red rose there as a symbol of solidarity, meant to keep alive the spirit of Tapia, who passed away suddenly in a car accident on the evening of November 7th, 2014. The 22-year-old, in her first year in the Master of Public Health Program, was known to light up the classroom with her effervescent curiosity and thirst for knowledge, that not only inspired her fellow classmates, but professors as well.

Much like the rose itself, Tapia was as unique and gentle as the petals, but like the thorns that adorn the rose, she possessed a tenacious spirit that followed her throughout her life – a life that family, friends and colleagues say was cut far too short.


Ana Tapia of Fowler.

On the morning of Nov. 7th, Ana visited her old stomping grounds in the offices of Fresno State’s Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) to film a promotional training video for peer mentors. As a former peer mentor in the program, Ana wanted to give advice to future mentors and help them become more effective in their positions mentoring first-generation, low-income and educationally disadvantaged students on campus. That is just the person she was – someone always willing to help.

It was also her way of giving back to a program that was there for her when she first began at Fresno State. Ana was a first generation college student, who came to America from Mexico at the age of six. Growing up in the rural town of Fowler, she experienced firsthand the struggles of her farm worker parents. That drive and passion to further herself in order to help her family set the catalyst for her academic career.

Ana’s time as a mentor in the EOP program was highly impactful, said Mui Vuong, executive director of the EOP Program. Her gentle and compassionate nature made her the ideal mentor.

“The way she talked to students was full of kindness and sincerity,” said Vuong. “She was not only a mentor to these students, but became their friend and confidante. She really wanted students to succeed, both academically and in their personal lives. As committed and busy as she was, she always made time for her students and gave 110% of her energy.”

Under the EOP program, Ana became involved in the Students Organizing for Success (SOS) club and later became president of the club. During her one-year term, she coordinated various community service projects for her and her fellow students, with organizations such as the Marjaree Mason Center and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Her leadership set the standard for the then new club and brought it to another level, said Vuong.

Ana’s colleague, friend and fellow mentor at the time, Pang Thao, recalls moments when Ana would go the extra mile for her students, walking them to a destination on campus that they were unfamiliar with or simply staying behind after hours, during EOP academic advising sessions, because she was the type to go above and beyond expectations.

“Ana encouraged students to never give up on their dreams,” said Thao. “She truly cared about the students that she advised and she really cared about helping others succeed. Without a doubt, Ana impacted many people’s lives.”

Striving For Academic Success

B2XjjMaIMAASKY9.jpg large
May 2014.

Ana initially began her academic career at Fresno State in the fall of 2010. She made the best of her time at college, taking advantage of every opportunity that came her way. She was an active member of countless clubs and organizations on campus, including the Education and Leadership Foundation, Health Career Opportunities Program, Phi Kappa Phi and the Golden Key International Honor Society amongst others.

Perhaps her proudest involvement on campus was her pursuit of a degree in public health. Ana’s professors and friends say her greatest dream was to help her community, especially populations residing from disadvantaged backgrounds. She planned to graduate with her master’s degree and go on to become a community health educator, where she would play a role in educating underserved communities about public health issues impacting their lives.

Dr. Vicki Krenz, chair in the Department of Public Health, was Ana’s undergraduate advisor for four years, and says Ana’s tenacious spirit and driven outlook on education made her the model student.

“Ana embodied all the core values we strive for in our students,” said Krenz. “I’ve worked at Fresno State for 25 years and have seen thousands of students walk through my doors, but I can say with certainty, that Ana is one that stood out. She was the personification of professionalism.”

Krenz recalls the many times Ana would show up her office door in J Wing of McLane Hall, every knock followed by her signature bright-eyed smile. Every visit was with purpose, either to ask a question or seek a solution to an answer. “She was so dedicated and fully invested to her education and always wanted to grasp on to everything. She never had a moment to waste and did everything with her vision in mind.”

Ana at the Division of Student Affairs Dean’s Medalist Ceremony with Mui Vuong, EOP Director (l) and Dr. Carolyn Coon, Dean of Students (r). May 2014.

Ana received her bachelor’s of science degree in public health (with an emphasis in community health) in May 2014, graduating with prestigious magna cum laude honors. She was also nominated as a Dean’s Medalist for the Department of Student Affairs.

Thanks in large part to the full-ride Alice E. and Paul J. Sr. Vincent Memorial Scholarship, Ana was able to pursue her great dream of fulfilling her studies in higher education, said Dr. Helda Pinzon-Perez, Ana’s public health professor, who also delivered the eulogy at Ana’s November 17th memorial service. The scholarship, which is mainly for students pursing undergraduate degrees, made an exception for Ana, who was able to receive it for her graduate studies as well. She was the first person to receive this honor.

Pinzon-Perez said she will remember Ana as a great inspiration to her classmates and faculty in the public health department; one who was always willing to help others and had the most positive attitude in life. “Her legacy lives on through our department, where her spirit serves as a reminder of the true value of education. Students like Ana made faculty, such as myself, feel appreciative of the work we put in.”

A Life of Service

Ana dreamt of a career that enabled her to give back to underserved communities – but much more than that, she wanted to share in her dreams with those closest to her. A smile comes to the face of Ana’s good friend, Laura Rosales, as she remembers the time she asked Ana what she wanted to do after graduation. Ana responded by saying she wanted to start up a nonprofit organization to help those in rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley. She wanted to include Rosales, whose goal is to become a physician assistant and their other good friend, Norma Tovar, whose goal is to become a psychologist.

“We knew it would be a long road to achieve this dream, but Ana was very determined and encouraged us to sign up for this idea,” said Rosales. “Our careers would definitely contribute to this organization, so we all agreed it was a perfect idea to help others in need. Thanks to Ana’s thoughtfulness and compassion, Norma and I will one day accomplish fulfilling our dream of a starting a non-profit organization in the San Joaquin Valley in her honor.”

Ana Tapia Presenting CVHPI Summer Project
Ana Tapia Presenting CVHPI Summer Project.

In June 2014, a month after graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Ana began an internship at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute (CVHPI). Lauren Lessard, post graduate research fellow and one of Ana’s supervisors, said Ana exhibited a natural passion for educating the community.

“Ana came to us knowing she could impact individuals, but wanted to help whole populations, especially with young women and children and those facing teen pregnancy,” said Lessard. “She wanted to help these individuals realize their hopes and dreams, while also finding solutions to problems effecting their lives and communities.”

Ana displayed such zest and dedication for the work she was doing that the CVHPI offered her a paid position after her three-month internship came to a close. She would go on to work during the day at CVHPI and afterwards, made the daily trek across Shaw Avenue to the Fresno State campus where she would continue with her night classes, studying long into the night.

“Ana’s passion for educating the community was exciting to witness,” Lesssard continued. “She truly wanted to understand the disparities facing the Central Valley. She was just so committed.”

The CVHPI recently announced the development of the Ana Tapia Memorial Research Internships, a research training opportunity developed in honor of the life and achievements of Ana. The internship is designed for students from the Central Valley, enrolled at Fresno State pursuing a degree in public health, with an interest in, and passion for, health issues and challenges in the Latino community, specifically Latina health issues.

Ana Tapia and family at her May 2014 commencement.


An on campus memorial will be held tonight in honor of Ana’s life. The memorial, coordinated by the Department of Public Health and student club EsTuDios, will be at 6:00 p.m. in the Satellite Student Union and will include speakers led by Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. Donations to the Ana Tapia Memorial Fund to assist the family can be made at Bank of America (account No. 325047565720) or online at

Our College empowers students to take a whole body approach to improving the quality of life. Our faculty and students are dedicated to helping Central California live well. Click through the slideshow to the right to learn about each of our seven departments within our college: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Recreation Administration, School of Nursing and Social Work Education and Gerontology.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 686 other followers